Thanks (or no thanks) to this years re-make of the 1980 original "Friday the 13th", the franchise is now seeing a whole new light and generation. While the new film was not bad - it failed to capture the suspense and originality of the original version.
With this in mind, Paramount has re-released the original version in an unrated edition as well as the successful sequels, 1981's "Friday The 13th Part 2" and the 3D debut of "Friday The 13th Part 3."
This original trio of films, while not perfect, was certainly the better of all the 8 trillion sequels that were made in the 80's and 90's. Not to mention lights years above some of the utter nonsense that imitators tried to shove down our throats (Don't believe me? Have you checked out "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" lately?)
The story of Jason Voorhees and his drowning at Camp Crystal Lake is well known, why he and his insane maternal monster of a mom took it out on future generations of Camp goers for an accident that happened years before is a mystery. Hell, even Death Wish's Paul Kersey (made famous by Charles Bronson) knew when to let his vigilante vengeance take a rest - and his family tragedies were surely not accidents.
That aside, the original three films are essential, not just to horror buffs, but to those with an interest in 80's Pop culture and they also show just how a movie masterfully creates suspense (without Hitchcock's fingerprints) and makes a point of using violence, without taking it too far in a graphic sense.
Sure the storylines in all the flicks are the same: hormones racing while late teens run off to Camp Crystal Lake to escape parental guidance, party, pick-up, and, well, die some awful death.
While the first film in 1980 was a raging success, being it was the only film in the Halloween genre that actually had a story and some talent (featuring a young Kevin Bacon, in only his 5th movie at the time).
While Mr. Six Degrees did not live to be in the squeals, Parts2 and 3 are not without their appeals. Part 2 does kind of tread a bit too close to the original but it is still another fun ride through the Camp, full of moments that literally shake you up.
Since Part 2 was nowhere near as successful as the original movie, the last film in the trilogy (not the last film however...sadly) linked up to the 50's novelty of making it a 3D movie.
While it does not sound like much of a gimmick now, 3D was not often seen in theaters in the early 80's and the idea did break up the fact that, once again, a new group was back (shouldn't the Camp have been condemned by now???) just waiting to be hacked-up in some more horrible ways. A mini-side story of a run-in with a local (albeit, very small) motorcycle gang adds a bit more to the story, but in the end, the 3D glasses do add some interest to the now too familiar experience.
The new editions are a vast improvement over the 1999 DVD's or Parts 1 & 2 (not to mention the double feature DVD in 2007). The weary colors that haunted those versions are digitally brightened up and the new 5.1 surround mix picks up the sound quality, which was fairly muddy on the earlier editions. The "Uncut" hoopla on Part 1 is nothing more that 10 extra seconds in total of extensions of four slayings and nothing to get very hyped over. Some of the more interesting bonus features are commentary from director Sean Cunningham's and a profile of the director called "Man Behind the Legacy." The original trailer is here (and on all three discs). But the cast "Special Reunion" and features as "Fresh Cuts: New Tales from "Friday the 13th" and "Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 1" are no where as interesting as Cunningham's audio commentary.
Parts 2 and 3, neither of which was directed by Cunningham, also come with a myriad of extras. Lacking a commentary from second director Steve Miner, Part 2 relies heavily on the featurettes. The "Inside Crystal Lake Memories," and "Horror Convention," sections do hold your attention but "Jason Forever," "Lost Tales from Camp Blood - Part 2" (we didn't need Part 1 of this...so you can imagine the pointlessness of this one) "Slasher Films: Going for the Jugular" are little more than commercials pushing the horror genre, but Friday diehards will love the Jason trivia part, which was not easy to master.
While Part 3 is most improved over its 2000 DVD edition, it lacks any of the featurettes that filled up on the other sets. The set is now in 3D (the way it was originally released in theaters, but was missing from the 2000 cut) and also includes the 2D version, a great option...especially after the novelty has worn off. The inclusion of 4 pairs of 3D glasses is a nice touch, and saves you from borrowing the pairs you kids used to view that God-Awful Jonas Brothers concert film a couple weeks back.
While coming not even two years after the original "Halloween" (in 1978), "Friday The 13th" will always be considered a Johnny-come-lately to the horror film craze genre and while that will always loom over the franchises head, it offered much more than the low budget drivel that littered screens during the Regan years.